The Red Sox have optioned outfielder Jarren Duran to Triple-A Worcester, Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reports. Righty Tanner Houck will take his spot on the active roster. The Red Sox have yet to formally announce this and any other roster moves that will be made this afternoon.
Duran, 24, is regarded as one of the top all-around prospects in baseball but did not hit the ground running upon his initial call-up from Worcester last month. The 2018 seventh-rounder was plugged in as the everyday center fielder in Boston upon his debut but has struggled to adjust to big league pitching. Through 89 plate appearances, Duran has posted a .221/.236/.372 slash. He’s drawn just two walks in that time and struck out at a whopping 37.1 percent clip to begin his big league career.
The Red Sox surely still view Duran as a key piece to their future. However, with deadline acquisition Kyle Schwarber now in the fold as an option in left field — Alex Verdugo is capable of manning center — the Sox can send Duran back to Worcester for further refinement in a lower-pressure setting. The fact that Boston has slid down the AL East standings in rapid fashion due both to the Sox’ own poor play and the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak surely also adds some pressure to get better immediate results on the field.
Duran appeared in 46 games with Worcester earlier this season and fared quite well, batting .270/.365/.561 with vastly better walk and strikeout percentages — 11.0 and 23.7, respectively — than he showed in the Majors. He’ll need to spend 10 days in the minors unless he’s recalled as the corresponding move in an injury. Rosters can expand from 26 to 28 players beginning Sept. 1, so he could very well get another opportunity in the Majors before too long.
The decision to option Duran today won’t impact his path to free agency or his arbitration schedule. Based on the July 17 date of Duran’s initial promotion to the big leagues, the maximum amount of service time he could’ve accrued in 2021 was 79 days — well shy of a full year of service (172 days). He’s controllable through at least the 2027 season as it stands and would reach arbitration in the 2024-25 offseason. Even if Duran stays in Triple-A for the remainder of the current season, that free agency timeline would remain intact so long as he accrues at least 134 days of service time next season. The Sox would need to keep him in Worcester through late May next year to change that timeline, which seems unlikely.